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# Wednesday, February 03, 2010
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Website Now Online
Posted by Diane

I’ve been seeing “Who Do You Think You Are?” (WDYTYA) promo spots between shows on NBC, and now the show’s official website is available. Surf over to
  • Watch previews of the show
  • Read about and see photos of the celebrities who find out about their family trees, including Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Emmitt Smith and others.

  • View historical photos of immigrants on Ellis Island.
  • "Start your family tree" by typing in your first and last name. (This opens a new window to start a family tree on Ancestry.com, a partner in creating the show.)
  • Click Exclusives and read articles about genealogy, start a 14-day trial of Ancestry.com's subscription records databases, or type in your surname to learn family facts (such as the distribution of your surname in various censuses—this also takes you to Ancestry.com)
  • Visit the WDYTYA section in NBC's community forum
I hope that once the episodes start, the site shows us some of the behind-the-scenes genealogy research and the historical records mentioned on-camera.

For more WDYTYA details, see our earlier blog post.


"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Ancestry.com
Wednesday, February 03, 2010 4:17:02 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
We'll Take the National Archives for $200, Alex
Posted by Diane

We’re feeling very prescient right now.

A December 2005 Family Tree Magazine article on the National Archives' regional research facilities spoofed Utahn Ken Jennings’ smarty-pants appearances on the game show "Jeopardy!"

The article, written by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack and James W. Warren, featured a spot-on caricature of "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek by illustrator Thomas Fluharty:



Lo and behold if Alex himself didn't have a National Archives category on the show last week. Here's the rapid-fire question-and-answer ... er, answer-and-question video, courtesy of the National Archives YouTube channel. See how many you can get right!

 
Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy fun | Libraries and Archives | Videos
Wednesday, February 03, 2010 1:07:03 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
Mining Federal Records for Local History
Posted by Diane

Researching the places where your ancestors lived can help you break through roadblocks that happen when you can’t find family names. That’s why, for this “Best of Family Tree Magazine,” I’m excerpting from John Philip Colletta’s October 2002 article about finding local history information even when no one has published a book about your ancestral locale:
Nothing could be duller than federal government studies, reports and investigations—unless the local history of your ancestral hometown is buried in those bureaucratic papers. For example, the US Congressional Serial Set is a collection of more than 14,000 volumes containing House and Senate reports and documents from the 15th Congress through 1969.

The reports tend to be studies and investigations of congressional committees; the documents span a broad range of topics, including private citizens' petitions before Congress, as well as reports by executive departments and independent organizations. (The papers of the first 14 Congresses were published as the American State Papers.)

When you click the Search button to search either collection, on the next page, be sure to choose the collection from the pull-down menu under "NOTE."
For years, family historians have been finding genealogical clues in these federal papers. But not finding an ancestor's name in the US Serial Set Index doesn't mean there's nothing of value here. These 14,000 volumes are chock full of information about people, places and events throughout the country.
Searching the index for the name Ring, for example, I found nothing. But searching under Mississippi resulted in a rich source of Issaquena County history: Mississippi in 1875: Report of the Select Committee to Inquire into the Mississippi Election of 1875, with the Testimony and Documentary Evidence.

Senators interviewed dozens of Mississippians, whose testimony provides a vivid picture of their communities during the decade following the Civil War. I found interviews with former slave Henry P. Scott, sheriff of Issaquena County at the time, and other neighbors of Ring, including his attorney, W. D. Brown. Discussed at length were freedman Noah B. Parker, the justice of the peace in my ancestor's neighborhood, and a host of events there.
Excerpts from the testimony of just one witness demonstrate what a deep well of information Mississippi in 1875 holds about Issaquena County:
W. D. Brown — sworn and examined
Q. What is your occupation? — A. I am engaged in planting; I am also an attorney at law.


Q. What is the chief crop of your country, sir? — A. Cotton is the chief product.

Q. To clean the lint from the seed you must take it to the gin-house? — A. You must take it to the gin-house; yes, sir.


Q. Is the packing-press, the baling-press, near by there? — A.
It is generally inside the gin-house now. The old-fashioned press was exterior to the gin; the press is now in the rear portion of the gin-building …


Q. In these isolated houses, do the people have any means of extinguishing a conflagration when it is once started? — A. We have nothing to depend upon. That mode of revenge is regarded as the surest…

The Rings often engaged Brown's legal services, yet when their neighbors were arrested in connection with the destruction by fire of the Ring & Co. store and the deaths of five people sleeping in the living quarters upstairs, Brown represented the defendants!

Given the size and breadth of the US Congressional Serial Set, chances are good you'll come up with some document containing information about the neighborhood of your forebears. You may also get lucky. If an ancestor, through his or her senator or congressman, petitioned the US government for something—a widow's pension or financial reparations for some grievance against a federal agent—that petition will appear in the set.
Family Tree Magazine Plus members can click here to access the entire “Hometown History” article.

More place-based research help from Family Tree Magazine:
  • State Research Guides: You can purchase individual state guides as digital downloads, or get them all on CD or in a book.


Public Records | Research Tips | Social History
Wednesday, February 03, 2010 10:45:58 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, February 01, 2010
African-American Roots: Websites and Resources
Posted by Diane

To start off Black History Month, here are some of my top picks for soaking up African-American history and genealogy knowledge
  • Library and Archives Canada created an introduction to Black History Month with online resources relating to black history in Canada, and information on educational events organized by Black History Ottawa.
  • Yahoo! has an online timeline starting with the first slaves arriving at Jamestown, Va. and continuing all the way up to today.
Also be sure to check out the African-American roots category of this blog for news on more websites and resources to help you trace your family tree.


African-American roots | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, February 01, 2010 11:00:47 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, January 29, 2010
Genealogy News Corral: January 25-29
Posted by Diane


Celebrity Roots | Historic preservation | Newspapers
Friday, January 29, 2010 3:53:56 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, January 28, 2010
Best of 2001: Genealogy at University Libraries
Posted by Diane

We told you all about the family history treasures waiting in college and university libraries in the April 2001 Family Tree Magazine.

Genealogists don’t often think of popping over to the nearest academic library for ancestor searching, so I’m posting part of that article, written by University of Houston librarian Gay Carter, for the 2001 installment of our 10th-Annivesary “best of” series:
University libraries are particularly noted for special collections of government documents, microfilm, microfiche, local history materials, ethnic resources, and rare books and manuscripts. Some universities have archives housed separately from the general library. Here's a sampling of microform collections especially interesting to family historians:
  • American Culture Series, 1493-1875 (University Microfilms): publications on all aspects of American life. Here you'd find, for example, History of the Old Cheraws, about South Carolina, 1730-1810, originally published in 1867. The American Farrier and Family Medical Companion, published in 1852, gives advice on popular medical remedies.
  • Confederate Imprints (Research Publications): official and unofficial publications of the Confederacy. It contains such items as the organization of the army, instructions for mail carriers, hymn books and sheet music.
  • History of Women (Research Publications): publications by and about women up to about 1920. An Essay on the Education and Genius of the Female Sex (1795) and The Good Housekeeper (1839) are just two examples.
  • Western Americana (Xerox University Microfilms): publications about and contemporary with each successive frontier. The Navigator: Containing Directions for Navigating the Monongahela, Allegheny, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers …, published in 1814, was a guide for travelers. Miners and Business Men's Directory for the Year Commencing January 1st, 1856 could help trace a participant in the gold rush.
Special collections often aren't indexed in the library's catalog. Be sure to ask a reference librarian about any special holdings that may aid your research.
Carter also recommends visiting college and university libraries for histories, chronologies, bibliographies, biographical directories, directories, newspapers, maps and atlases and state codes and law reports. (Update: While working on today's e-mail newsletter about this post, I came across a University of Cincinnati Libraries blog post about church records in its collection—specifically mentioning a church my German ancestors may have attended.) 

Make sure you check the library visitor policy before you go. You may have to flash your driver’s license or get a special ID badge.

Related resources from FamilyTreeMagazine.com:


Family Tree Magazine articles | Libraries and Archives | Research Tips
Thursday, January 28, 2010 8:47:10 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Wednesday, January 27, 2010
10 Genealogy Books & CDs for $10 Each
Posted by Diane


Feel free to join me in taking a swig of coffee every time a 10 appears in the following post:

To celebrate Family Tree Magazine’s 10th anniversary (our first issue was January 2000) we’re having a 10 for $10 sale in ShopFamilyTree.com. Get your 2010 roots research started off on the right foot—inexpensively—by picking up 10 genealogy how-to helps for a cool $10 each, including:

Books
  • Family Tree Problem Solver by Marsha Hoffman Rising
  • Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photographs by Maureen A. Taylor
  • The Family Tree Guide to Finding Your Ellis Island Ancestors book by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack
CDs
  • our 2005, 2007 and 2008 collections of back issues
  • International Genealogy Passport
  • Family Tree Essentials: Guide to 15 Key Records for Finding Your Ancestors
  • Family Photo Essentials

And our 2010 Desk Calendar (it comes with a ShopFamilyTree.com coupon for each month)

For more details about each of these $10 items, see our ShopFamilyTree.com 10 for $10 page. Shipping is always free on orders over $25.

Now to go find some walls to bounce off ...


Editor's Pick
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 10:49:39 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, January 26, 2010
National Archives Bans Photography in DC Exhibit Areas
Posted by Diane

You’ve got about another month if you want to take pictures inside the exhibition areas of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) building in Washington, DC.

NARA announced that starting Feb. 25, members of the public will be prohibited from filming, photographing and videotaping in exhibition areas. (The press release gives the date as Feb. 25, but the Federal Register says Feb. 24—I'll let you know when I find out which is correct.)

Archivists are concerned that exposure to flash photography is hastening fading of the Charters of Freedom—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights—and other documents on display in the National Archives Experience.

Archivists estimated the documents were subjected to about 50,000 flashes a yeardespite an explicit 30-year ban on flash photography, signage to that effect throughout the exhibit area, and reminders from security guards.

The advent of cameras with automatic flash have made the no-flash policy almost impossible to enforce, according to NARA’s press release. The ban on all photography followed internal analysis and a 60-day public comment period. Click here to read the announcement in the Federal Register, which includes public comments received and NARA responses.

Will not pulling out your camera make a visit to Charters of Freedom less enjoyable or meaningful? Here's an interesting blog post from the Washington City Paper on how this new rule could change the experience of visiting museums.

You won’t be able to take a picture of your family admiring the Declaration of Independence, but you still can get images of the historical documents safeguarded at NARA: Download them free from the Charters of Freedom website or, if you visit NARA in Washington, DC, you can pick up a free color copy.


Libraries and Archives
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 3:21:32 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
A Look at NBC's New Genealogy Show
Posted by Diane

The trailer for NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" a celebrity genealogy series premiering March 5, is now available. What do you think?



"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Genealogy Industry | Videos
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 1:00:42 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [27]
# Monday, January 25, 2010
Search Australian Convicts Free Through Jan. 31
Posted by Diane

Starting in 1788, Great Britain sent about 160,000 convicts to Australia, predominantly New South Wales.

Today, an estimated one in five Australians has a convict ancestor. Think you’re among them? To mark Australia Day (Jan. 26), Ancestry.com’s Australian site is letting you search 2.3 million convict and criminal-related records free through Sunday, Jan. 31

Note that you’ll need to sign up for a free registration to search. (If you subscribe to Ancestry.com’s World Deluxe Collection, the convict records are included in your subscription.)

Thanks to @NSWGenealogy for tweeting this news.


Ancestry.com | International Genealogy
Monday, January 25, 2010 9:57:41 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]